The afternoon is like an inferno and the news about the coronavirus pandemic is even hotter than the weather. A man carrying a sleek black compact camera starts to roam around Chinatown, an old neighbourhood in the centre of Bangkok, visiting places he has frequented for decades. He picks up his Ricoh GR III and starts to click the shutter, quietly recording the lives of the people and corners of the city. He walks, sometimes stopping at certain spots, to absorb the unusual peace of Bangkok, a city that until now has never slept. With his vision and the compact camera, he creates a collection of photographs he calls “Re-Vision”.
For the passionate photographer, the Ricoh GR III is a legendary compact camera that one simply has to own. Hailed as the champion of the street snap, the Ricoh GR III has been famous since the days of analog photography. It was the camera used by renowned Japanese lensman Daido Moriyama whose abstract photography was known for its distinctive and iconic high contrasts. The Ricoh GR has successfully maintained its uniqueness for the past 20 years and remains a legend even in the digital era. Black-and-white photos taken by a Ricoh GR are strangely emotional and hard to match. The perfect partnership between the Ricoh GR and passionate photographer Samatcha “Pop” Apaisuwan has created the unique collection you are now experiencing.
On a day when usually bustling Bangkok is empty, the Ricoh GR III seems to be the only viable tool for Samatcha to use in snapping the street. It captures the lonely but beautiful moments. Despite the silence of the photos, they speak volumes about the feelings of the people portrayed. Questions and emptiness are reflected in eyes; weariness in gestures. Nobody knows when the battle against this invisible enemy will end.
“When I took these photos, safety measures weren’t so strict. But businesses soon started to temporarily close and work-from-home measures were introduced. I missed the places and neighbourhoods where I had always walked the alleys or waited at the bus stops, such as the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC), MBK, Siam Square, Chinatown or Charoenkrung. So I want these to be comparisons with earlier normal times,” Samatcha says, in his signature bass tone.
Samatcha is a veteran professional photographer in the advertising industry. His works have been praised for their charm and unique perspective. Thanks to his unique composition, lighting and the post-production work he crafts by himself, his photographs are works of art rather than simple snapshots. “I’d like to bring a new perspective and create simple works that are practical and real.”
That’s why the professionals presented in “Re-Vision” are motorcycle taxi drivers in front of an alley, food delivery drivers who’ve never been this busy, Tuk-Tuk drivers who patiently wait for customers or a vendor desperately waiting for someone to pick up his products. They portray the loneliness and fatigue that come from a battle that nobody knows when it will end. But for a passionate photographer like Samatcha, these are stories of people that charm the viewer and record a part of history – all captured with his favourite Ricoh GR III.
“All the empty spaces I’ve just photographed are places that I have always frequented. These places used to be filled with people in the evening after work. A summer afternoon is the best moment for photography. I’ve tried to show the current reality of Bangkok. They are places that can easily be located and which tell the contrast between the pre-coronavirus period and today. This is the message I’d like to share with my audience. Re-Vision speaks of that.”
Samatcha is determined to roam the city this summer as much as his physical strength and inspiration will allow, his black Ricoh GR III at hand to record the empty moments. Keep up-to-date with Samatcha’s latest works at www.facebook.com/pholosophy.photo/.